The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAM
Over a decade ago, when relator was an adolescent of fifteen years of age, he and two other youthful companions confessed to the murder and attempted robbery of a Philadelphia druggist. The collateral proceedings seeking to invalidate relator's and his co-defendants' subsequent convictions of first degree murder, of which the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus is only one of many, may well last several more years. The events and circumstances surrounding the confessions and convictions of relator and his co-defendants raise perplexing legal and factual issues which have been presented to various state and federal judges over a period of time.
After a plea of guilty to murder generally and a trial to determine the degree of guilt, relator was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment on September 9, 1957.
The instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed in this Court on March 5, 1968, and was dismissed for failure to exhaust state remedies under the Post Conviction Hearing Act, 19 P.S. § 1180-1 et seq. on the basis of United States ex rel. Singer v. Myers, 384 F.2d 279 (3rd Cir., 1967) reversed per curiam 392 U.S. 647, 88 S. Ct. 2307, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1358 (1968). The Third Circuit had held in Singer that a state prisoner who had already filed a state habeas corpus petition, must file a petition under the then newly enacted and broader Post Conviction Hearing Act, supra, before he could be held to have exhausted his state remedies. The Supreme Court reversed this opinion without a written opinion.
Following the reversal of Singer, the Commonwealth requested that the instant matter be remanded to this Court for disposition.
I find that I have jurisdiction under the facts of this case. After a full plenary hearing and considerations of the well argued briefs of both the Commonwealth and counsel for the relator, I find for reasons stated hereafter, that relator is not entitled to the writ of habeas corpus and the petition is therefore dismissed.
After the arrest of relator's co-defendant, Isaiah Green, at 12:15 A.M., on July 27, 1957, relator, Edwin Walker, was arrested at 3:00 A.M., on July 27, 1957 (N.T., 52).
At the time of his arrest, Walker was fifteen years, eleven months of age (N.T., 148). He was awakened from a deep sleep at 3:00 A.M. by twelve or fourteen law enforcement officers and questioned as to the whereabouts of the alleged murder weapon. (H.C., 53).
The relator first lead the officers to a sewer where the weapon was supposedly hidden. During the course of the search for the weapon in the sewer, according to Walker's testimony, one officer told him that he should throw him down the sewer, but another officer assured the relator that no such threat would be carried out. (H.C., 54-55). Under the facts of this case, I find the relator was not apprehensive of any physical harm at this time. Relator then showed the police officers where the weapon was actually hidden, in a backyard. Newspaper reporters and photographers accompanied the police during the search for the weapon. At the direction of a police officer, relator was photographed by newspaper photographers indicating where the weapon was hidden. (H.C., 56).
Later that morning the relator was interrogated at police headquarters by several police officers. After 3:45 A.M., Walker was taken to City Hall, where he was questioned by five detectives. Walker signed the typewritten confession at 8:35 A. M., in the presence of his two co-defendants. (N.T., 140). Thus, for a period of approximately five hours during the middle of the night, Walker was questioned by five policemen.
During this period of questioning of Walker, no attorney or friendly adult was present. (H.C., 60). On Thursday, July 25, 1957, prior to relator's arrest, a police officer informed relator's older sister that relator was wanted for questioning. (H.C., 38). After relator's arrest and after he had given his confession, his sister was told on either Monday or Tuesday that there was no need to get a lawyer since the relator would be treated as a juvenile. (H.C., 40).
Four days after his arrest, during which time he had no family visitors, the relator had a hearing before a juvenile judge sitting as a committing magistrate, on July 30, 1957. A prima facie case of murder was made out and relator was certified to stand trial as an adult for murder. The next day, July 31, 1957, relator was indicted for murder by the Grand Jury and sent to County Prison. He was not allowed to be visited by his sister at County Prison, although she attempted to do so. (H.C., 41). Counsel was not appointed for the relator until twelve days later, August 12, 1957. Relator first conferred with appointed counsel on August 20, 1957. (H.C., 69).
The next contact between relator and his court-appointed attorneys was on September 4, 1957, when relator plead guilty to murder generally. (H.C., 103). This plea of guilty was unrecorded. (N.T., 45.) The relator was ...